Grace Beahm // The Post and Courier

Local tree advocates are trying to get a planned Harbor View Road widening project scaled back in order to save trees.

James Island -- Residents trying to save trees facing removal for the Harbor View Road widening project are asking for a large turnout at Tuesday's Town Council meeting to urge that the project be scaled back.

But even with the planned protest, it may be too little and too late. Charleston County transportation officials say they have acquired most of the right of way they need to begin construction.

Jim Armstrong, director of development for the county's transportation sales tax program, also said the expansion cannot shrink any more than it already has.

"We have revised the footprint of the project as much as we can," he said Friday of the $18 million RoadWise project.

Armstrong's comment came after local tree advocates recently put red markers in branches along the road identifying which trees would be removed when the widening starts.

Susan Milliken, of the group Will You Miss These Trees?, said they are trying to bring attention to how Harbor View will change, contending it will be significant. "We ran out of tape, and we just got to some of them," she said. "It's not just oaks, it's all kinds of trees."

In a letter to Mayor Bill Woolsey and to others following the issue, Milliken lamented the loss of green space, shrubbery and foliage. "Many of us are very upset and wish to do all we can to encourage all entities to scale the project way back," she said.

The debate over the size and scope of the widening has been running for some time. James Island filed a lawsuit over the expansion in August 2009, but that didn't prevent the county from moving forward. The suit was filed during the administration of former Mayor Mary Clark. Woolsey has continued the effort.

Woolsey said Friday the town is still pursuing a legal path and possible settlement for a less intrusive road fix, but that he also wanted to keep the town's legal strategy confidential.

Woolsey said discussion of the road is not an agenda item for Tuesday's council meeting but that it is something he plans to bring up. He also said anyone wishing to voice their opinion about the project can do so during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Armstrong said bids for the project could be let out in the next 30 days; Woolsey said changes to the project can still be pursued and made even during the construction phase. Ground-breaking is expected to be some time this summer.